How to Make a Stray Cat Feel at Home

A sweet stray cat may just show up on your deck.

A sweet stray cat may just show up on your deck.

Sometimes, cats adopt people. If you have a stray cat that you would like to care for, there are simple steps to make him feel at home. The amount of time he takes to warm up to you will depend on how much contact he's had with people.

Let the cat take the lead. Depending on what the cat has been through, he may be skittish around people. Don’t try to pet or pick up a stray who hasn’t demonstrated a willingness to be touched. Cats will brush up against you if they want more attention

Feed the cat twice a day. The fastest way to a cat’s heart is through his stomach. The person who feeds the cat is typically the first person a cat will connect with. By feeding on a regular schedule and removing the uneaten food, you will encourage the cat to come back and avoid attracting other wildlife.

Keep a bowl of fresh water available to the cat at all times. If the cat has everything it needs at your home, he will start to relax.

Give the cat somewhere comfortable to sleep. Put together a simple bed using a cardboard box lined with towels or an old blanket. Just make sure that the linens are freshly washed, because the scent of other animals may scare off the stray cat.

Place the bed in a cozy, warm area, particularly if it is the winter. If the cat is young, you may even want to leave a heating pad in the area for him to snuggle with. A covered outdoor area or part of a garage or shed that he can access is preferable.

Slowly introduce the scents of other people and animals from your family. Do this by leaving blankets that the animals sleep on or clothes that have been warm in the stray cat’s area. This will allow the cat to get used to the scent without becoming overwhelmed.

Items you will need

  • Cardboard box
  • Towels or blankets
  • Food
  • Fresh water
  • Bowls


  • If you find a stray kitten or mother cat with her litter, contact your local humane society for advice. Kittens have special needs for diet and health and a professional should be able to provide you with advice.


  • Have the cat checked out by a veterinarian before introducing it to your other pets. Although he may appear healthy, a full exam will make sure that you can be comfortable with the stray once he is comfortable with you.

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About the Author

Kimberly A. Smith has been a freelance writer for two years. She graduated from the University of California at Davis and the California Culinary Academy, then pursued a career baking wedding cakes. During her time at CCA, she received certification in nutrition and food safety. She currently attends the University of Oregon School of Law.

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